Review: Godlike Burger
I’m always a bit intrigued when developers combine two genres, especially when it involves adding combat to a genre not known for it. I’ve seen combat farming sims, combat typing tutors, combat visual novels, but this is probably the first time I’ve seen combat as the core part of a restaurant sim. In hindsight I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen this before since they seem like a perfect match.
Godlike Burger was developed by Liquid Pug, published by Daedalic Entertainment, and released for PC on April 21, 2022. The Steam version was played for this review.
We’ll Serve Anyone, and to Anyone
You are the sole employee of Good Burger, your boss is the creator of the universe, dying is not an acceptable excuse for time off, and your job is to get rich and achieve fame by selling fantastic burgers. Burgers which happen to be made from your other customers. For better or worse, that is about all the direct plot you get.
Now, saying there’s no plot is a bit harsh; there is writing and world building going on. Every time you visit a new planet, see a new event, or die, there’s a little comic about it. You’ll also periodically get news articles about things happening in the galaxy. In a way, there are plot threads running throughout the game. Things like the collapse of the ruling government, the question of why the humans are just about extinct, just what the heck the goals of the OMNOMI Group are, what various species theorize about the creator. These are all little bits about the world you’re drip fed over the game.
It’s just… it all has very little to do with what you’re doing or why. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing: Psychopathic behavior like this is probably best enjoyed when it’s just absurd dark comedy rather than having some story justification for all the crimes. You’re just a messed up guy in a messed up world, no more broken than anything else, so chop away!
To Serve Aliens
Godlike Burger is like two games working in tandem. On one hand you have a scaled down version of something like Overcooked, where you receive orders from customers, cook the meat, and assemble the burger to match what was requested. All quite simple, I could do it all day. The catch comes from needing to restock. You can simply purchase buns and veggies each night, but the patties and sauce? You’re going to be the demon chef of Good Burger and harvest that yourself from the meat walking in your restaurant every day.
Now, you can’t exactly just go charging across the dining room with a cleaver. I mean, you can, but it’s not really recommended if you want to avoid the police, and that’s where the second part of the game comes in. A sort of quasi-stealth game where you’re looking to isolate customers and either set off traps to take them out, or hack them up and quickly dispose of the evidence. And this is where the core of the gameplay truly resides.
There’s a whole buffet of systems that interact with both of these. Ideally you’ll want to actually sell your customer a burger and get tipped before slicing them up, but this narrows the window you have and they’re all quite picky about what other species they’ll consider good enough to tip for, so one is required to keep a diverse stock. Each species has various activities they like to engage in before or after their meal, and there are traps you can set in many of these locations to take them out without getting your hands bloody, but each species is also immune to certain traps so you can’t really take the same approach to every target.
Your restaurant also has a prestige level that influences the amount of customers (and thus the amount of money you make after the bills take their cut) and allows you to visit more lucrative planets. But this influx of customers ALSO makes it harder to get away with murder, and your prestige only goes up if happy customers leave the restaurant alive.
It’s all these little ways things are connected that really make Godlike Burger engaging. You have to take stock of how you’re doing and decide if you want more prestige or more ingredients. If you can’t make exactly what they want, do you accept just the money for selling them a burger, or save your patties for when you can get a tip and just start whacking?
Unfortunately, there are two other major mechanics that manage to drag the whole thing down. First off, in addition to hitting a certain prestige level, one also needs to complete certain “quests” to access later planets. These are randomly generated, and some of them are simple enough. “Spend one day in the kitchen” just means I need enough of a stockpile to avoid hunting that day. “Kill 10 Tarats,” well, you don’t have to ask me twice. Then there are the ones that feel downright suicidal, such as any that require killing three of something with a single trap activation (which basically involves getting them all to try and attack you so you can lure them all at once) or which require police raids.
The other annoying feature is the roguelite nature of the game; if you’re killed you start over basically from scratch. You keep any purchased upgrades, any banked money, and one upgrade allows for keeping a portion of your ingredients, but you’re back to the first planet with no prestige and, more importantly, no quests completed. Then the quests are randomly assigned again.
While in theory this adds extra incentive to avoid defeat, the quests that require me to go out of my way to do stupid and risky behavior feel contrary to that. It also felt extra frustrating to lose an entire run and go back to the start just because the game decided I had to do things with a high chance of killing me for no real reason. It’s one thing to lose progress in a roguelite because I didn’t know better, didn’t prepare properly, or knowingly took a risk. Dying because I was arbitrarily told “You have to play this way now” just sucks.
Bad Table Manners
Easily my favorite thing about Godlike Burger is the design of all the aliens. You’ve got your blue-skinned humans, basically furries, blob things, towering pillars of teeth, all very vibrant and distinct. Everything has this cartoony vibe to it that helps everything feel a bit more absurd rather than disturbing.
Soundwise, I’m only mostly a fan. There’s a whole playlist of tracks to pick for your background music and the audio cues to inform you of important events are distinct. But if you’re going to be playing this I hope you’re not bothered by the sound of someone chewing in your ear because good lord are these some messy eaters. I suppose being uncomfortable means whoever did the foley nailed it and it helps remove any sympathy you might have for your victims, but it didn’t exactly make for the most pleasant experience.
Lastly, one little nitpick but it’s a significant one: If you’re charging nearly $20 for a game, I really should not be seeing ads. Yes, they’re for the other publisher’s games and only on the main menu, but I still feel it’s a bit gauche. Combined with the UI design it makes the game feel more like a free-to-play mobile title than a retail PC game.
Little Restaurant of Horrors
Godlike Burger is a great idea with flawed execution. The attempt at adding roguelike elements does little to make each run feel unique, and instead just makes each death all the more painful and out of your control. Most of the more painful quests are extra annoying because they require you to fail at things the game is actively telling you to focus on everywhere else, such as avoiding detection and paying your bills.
I want to like this game, I really do. When it works, it works really well. The core gameplay loop is satisfying, the two ideas mesh believably, and figuring out how best to manage the species on a given level is like a fun little puzzle. Actually reaching later planets makes me feel like Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill, with the content I’m repeating feeling no different than it did an hour ago when I started my last run.
Review copy provided by Daedalic Entertainment for PC. Screenshots taken by reviewer.